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Kuwait University professor finishes year with Shepherd Department of Social Work

By Staff | Dec 7, 2018

Shepherd University Study Abroad Director Yin Star, left, receives a plaque from Kuwait University Professor Abdulwahab Al-Dhafiri, following the lecture. Courtesy photo.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — During his sabbatical from Kuwait University’s Department of Sociology and Social Work, Professor Abdulwahab Al-Dhafiri has worked to maintain the 67-year-old friendship between Kuwait and the United States.

Along with spending time as a cultural counselor at the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, D.C., Al-Dhafiri has been a visiting professor in Shepherd University’s Department of Social Work since January 2018.

“We’ve been really pleased to have him with us for the last calendar year,” said Professor of Social Work Gerri Crawley-Woods, mentioning she hopes the relationship will continue to grow between Shepherd and Kuwait University. “He’s been very generous–he wants some of our students and teachers to go visit Kuwait and for some of his students and teachers from Kuwait University to come here to Shepherd.”

According to Crawley-Woods, having Al-Dhafiri on the faculty has helped Shepherd fulfill its educational goals for its students.

“One of our goals is to educate our students, so that they have a global perspective and will be culturally confident and have some cultural humility,” Crawley-Woods said. “Our students tend to think everything is best in America, but that’s not always the case. I think it contributes to their role as global citizens.”

On Nov. 29, Al-Dhafiri gave his final lecture, “Kuwait: Toward a Different Social Policy,” in the Robert C. Byrd Center Auditorium. After speaking, he presented plaques to Shepherd University, to the International Student Affairs office and to the Department of Social Work, in honor of the relationship developed between himself and these groups. In exchange, Al-Dhafiri was presented a wooden engraving in honor of his service to Shepherd University, by Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences Ann Legreid.

“This has been a wonderful learning experience. Shepherd University has been very privileged to have Professor Al-Dhafiri and his wife with us,” Legreid said.

During his lecture, Al-Dhafiri discussed his concerns for the future of some of Kuwait’s social systems, but said any potential problems resulting from the government’s crude oil-funded generosity and decision not to tax individuals’ incomes will be delayed for 10 to 15 years.

“Kuwait today is very nice, despite the bad parts of social society–we critique it only. Is it better to take a successful policy from another country and adopt it, or to keep your old policy?” Al-Dhafiri said, mentioning he believes other countries’ policies will not work in Kuwait, so Kuwait will have to develop new policies to replace its soon-to-be-outdated ones.

As he finished his speech, Al-Dhafiri once again encouraged the Department of Social Work professors and students to visit Kuwait, to learn about its history, modern innovations and take in its picturesque landscape.

“Kuwait has a beautiful seaside, and I encourage you to visit,” Al-Dhafiri said.